Olli Ikkala appointed Aalto Distinguished Professor

06.09.2018

Professor Olli Ikkala at the Department of Applied Physics has been appointed as Aalto Distinguished Professor. The title is awarded to Professors of exceptional academic merit.

Olli Ikkala (right) was appointed Aalto Distinguished Professor in the Opening Ceremony of the academic year by President Ilkka Niemelä (left). Photo: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University.

Professor Ikkala’s long-standing work in materials research include functional materials, molecular self-assembly, biomimetics and the study of materials originating from nature. He was first appointed as Professor in 1999 at Aalto University (then Helsinki University of Technology). Ikkala’s Molecular Materials Lab features cross-disciplinary approaches from physics, chemistry and materials science.

‘Biomimetics means learning how natural materials could be realised in man-made high-tech materials to make nanostructures with similar properties than, for example, silk, nacre, lotus-leaves, or nanofibers of cellulose. The grand challenge, which no one has yet achieved, is to replace classic polymers and plastics with sustainable and economic biomimetic materials,’ says Olli Ikkala.

‘Could we boldly foresee that materials of the future could adapt, respond and evolve like biological materials? Scientists are constantly progressing, but this requires close collaboration with chemists, biologists, physical modellers, and engineers.’

Professor Ikkala is a two-time ERC Advanced Grant recipient, for the years 2012–2016 and 2017–2021. He has also twice been appointed as an Academy Professor by the Academy of Finland, during 2005–2010 and 2012–2016. Ikkala leads the national Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials research HYBER. The centre has encouraged multi-disciplinarity and and collaborative spirit from the get-go, and currently hosts 60 researchers from different strands of science.

Ikkala has published 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles, which have been cited over 15 000 times, and supervised 27 doctoral theses. He has been elected to the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and the Technology Academy of Finland.

Aalto University President Ilkka Niemelä extolled Ikkala’s scientific achievements during the nomination at the Opening Ceremony of the academic year, Aalto Day One, 5 September.

‘Professor Ikkala is highly recognized by the scientific community both in Finland and internationally, and a truly exemplary scholar.’